The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – The Incredible String Band (1968)

Album no. 109/1001

The Incredible String Band were a group of long-haired folk from Scotland, who took a fancy to exotic instruments and mythology. So if that’s your jams, you’re in for a treat.

This album somehow peaked at number 5 in the UK, and was nominated for a Grammy. It may also be a shining example of more not always being more – with more than 10 ‘weird’ instruments making an appearance throughout the 50 minute album.  

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: No. The album cover frightens me. Are they a cult? Are those children in the band too?

NK: Nope!

Standout track

CL: Oh dear. It’s another weirdo medieval thing. I for one have had my fill of this nonsense – first with Tim Buckley, then again with Donovan – when is this fad going to end? It honestly sounds like a small children’s music class, where everybody gets an instrument and just has a go.

NK: This is really weird.

CL: There’s a 13 minute song called ‘The Very Cellular Song’ where nobody can sing in tune. That’s a high point.  

NK: The ‘standout’ track for me is ‘Minotaur’s Song’, which is off the bloody chain. It reminds me of Monty Python doing singing ‘I’m a lumberjack and I’m ok’, only without any hint of humour. ‘I’m the orrrrrriginal, discrrrrrrrrrriminating buffalo man’ is a hell of a lyric. He rolls his Rs with such relish, and the everyone sings it back to him like it’s a bloody christmas carol.

CL: Maybe it is?

NK: As far as I can tell that song is about how difficult it is being a minotaur because his horns make it difficult to dream. Also there are a couple of really bad bull puns. This song stood out for sure, but not in a good way.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: If anyone is ever having a medieval-themed wedding or party, add this to your playlist. But don’t invite me.

NK: The lyrics on this are bonkers. I have clearly underestimated the weirdo old folk magyk hedge-witch don’t cross running water influences in 1960s music. I’m not sure I care for it. Listen to this if your eyes light up when you hear the phrases ‘pre-tolkien fantasy’ and ‘it’s really more about the vibe of the thing’.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: WHO CARES. WHO HONESTLY CARES. This was so awful, I’ve lost all faith in anything that purports to call itself ‘folk’ music.

NK: The lyrics are pretty loopy? You know what I couldn’t believe, this album stayed in the UK charts for 21 weeks, and got up to number 5. It was a major commercial success. 1968 was cooked.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: Oh no way.

NK: Nah mate.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

2 thoughts on “The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – The Incredible String Band (1968)

  1. It’s interesting to get alternative opinions. I love English folk and folk-rock, but until recently never cared much for this album because it was so strange and formless. But I listened to it again recently (in the dark with incense burning!), and it’s so goofy and hippie-dippy, I’ve since changed my opinion. I like it much more than Donovan, who always had one foot planted in Top 40 radio.

    Have you heard Bert Jansch or Pentangle? Very English and folky, but without the medieval hippie slant. Check out Jansch’s “Rosemary Lane” or Pentangle’s “Basket of Light” and “Sweet Child.”

    Like

  2. ‘Unicorn’ by Tyrannosaurus Rex, also from 1968, combined the Tolkien/Medieval thing with a Phil Spector Wall-of-Sound production. And their lyrics are even freakier.

    Like

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